SUDBURY -- Two elderly Ontario women have been scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars in an elaborate phone scheme that has resurfaced in the last week, police say. A third woman was also contacted, but fortunately, no money was taken.

All three situations involved similar circumstances:

  • Male caller claimed to be a police officer
  • Elderly females living in rural areas targeted
  • Bail money needed for "grandson" who has been arrested after police found drugs in the vehicle they were passengers in while on their way to get a COVID-19 test
  • "Grandsons" talk to their grandmothers in a congested voice
  • "Couriers" are sent to pick up the money
  • Women are told to tell the bank that the money is needed for renovations

Police will never demand money to have someone who has been arrested released from custody, to pay a fine, or involve a courier company to pick up payment.

The two recent victims both lived alone, one was 73 years old and the other was 84.

In one case, the 84-year-old was duped out of $22,000. She received a call from a man claiming to be "Corporal Matheson" who said her grandson had been arrested after a minor car crash with his friend and drugs were found in the car.

"In order for him to be released, she had to provide $10,000 in cash. The female spoke to her grandson who told her he was sick and was on his way for a COVID-19 test when the accident occurred explaining why he was stuffed up. The female provided the money which was picked up by a courier," provincial police said in a news release Thursday. "The 'officer' called back the following day and informed her the charges were dropped but she would have to pay $12,000 for his fine. She did as instructed and a courier picked up the money."

The other woman was scammed out of $15,000 after someone claiming to be her grandson called her and said he had been arrested in the same situation.

"The female requested to speak to the officer and a male identified himself as 'Constable Johnston'. She was directed to withdraw $6,000.00 for bail which she did and was picked up by a courier. The following day the 'officer' told her an additional $9,000.00 would be required for the charges being dropped. The victim again obliged," police said.

When the third woman was contacted, the man claiming to be a police officer also used the name 'Corporal Matheson.' She told police that when she talked to the person pretending to be her grandson, he "sounded like him but was sick." He also claimed to be on his way for a COVID-19 test.

"She was directed to withdraw $8,000 and leave it under her doormat and a courier would pick it up," police said. "The 'officer' called for better directions to her house at which time she said she was phoning her granddad and the male hung up the phone. Money was not picked up."

If you or someone you know suspects to have been the victim of a scam, contact police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.